"This season is about bringing people – and America – together through dance," says executive producer Rob Wade

By Patrick Gomez
Updated August 30, 2016 08:50 AM
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Craig Sjodin/ABC (3)

Season 23 of Dancing with the Starsmarks the return of three fan-favorite pro dancers: Derek Hough, Maksim and Cheryl Burke.

“Maks, Cheryl and Derek are beloved by our core audience and it would be exciting to have any one of them coming back, but to have all three is like Christmas come early for a DWTS fan,” executive producer Rob Wade tells PEOPLE.

It was revealed on Good Morning America on Tuesday that Chmerkovskiy, 36, is paired with TV host Amber Rose, 32, for season 23, while Hough, 31, will dance with former Taxi star Marilu Henner, 64, and Burke, 32, will compete with OlympianRyan Lochte, also 32.

“When we knew had interest from Cheryl, Maks and Derek to come back, we felt strongly that the people we paired them with would be really suitable to them,” says Wade.



Only one season has passed since Hough won his sixth Mirrorball Trophy (with Bindi Irwin on season 21), but Chmerkovskiy and Burke have not competed on the show since seasons 18 and 19, respectively.

“”This season is about bringing people – and America – together through dance,” says Wade. “And I think having Maks, Cheryl and Derek coming back to the family is a very important part of that.”

“It wasn’t easy because they have other opportunities, but they all love the show and are stoked to be coming back,” adds Wade. “I think it’s going to make for a really interesting season.”

Season 23 of Dancing with the Stars will premiere Sept. 12 on ABC.